Thursday, January 26, 2023
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Backyard Outdoor Living Space Ideas

Creating Shade To Define The Space And Enjoy It More

Easy Backyard Ideas: Outdoor Living Spaces

For SO many years, we did not fully enjoy the deck because it gets full sun all day long.

Shade umbrellas did not keep the space cool enough, so we were limited to enjoying it to the evenings in the dead heat of summer.

A few years ago, I found some pre-made gazebos and pergolas and fell in love!

So we bought a pre-made gazebo like this one and it was life-changing.


We are out there all the time now and I swear, its like 10 degrees cooler on the deck than the rest of the yard during the summer!

True, we could have built something, but we did not want to build anything else on the deck.

So the pre-made option was the right choice for us. We did not bring it with us here to the new house because we affixed it to the deck so it was stable.

My husband would like to get another one for the potager garden, but Im not sure I want it there. Well see how we use the space over time before doing anything more there.

If you have an outdoor living space that needs some shade too, here are some ideas.


Use Evergreens For Drama

However small or shady your outdoor space, you can still use plants to introduce drama.

Landscape designer Emily Erlam has harnessed their architectural forms to create real green impact in her own garden.

‘There is a high proportion of evergreen sculptural plants which means it has good structure all year round,’ Emily explains. With many evergreen fast growing shrubs you can quickly create the effect you are after.

‘I have added some ornamental grasses and perennials, which grow between these to make change and add to the drama. The shapes of the plants hug the walls and some arch over the seating area to make it feel enclosed,’ she adds.

Fill Your Outdoor Space With Garden Decor

Once you’ve anchored your outdoor space with a fire pit, a large outdoor dining space, stylish patio furniture and a few smaller seating areas, it’s time to sprinkle your yard with charming and unique garden decor. You can add a few pieces, like a cute dragonfly mobile and a corresponding rain gauge… or you can add a variety of different pieces, creating little vignettes in different areas of the property.


Our Happy Gardens shop is stocked with hundreds of handcrafted pieces of garden decor, including wind chimes and mobiles, garden statues, rain gauges, garden stakes, whirligigs and wall art decor.

There are also tons of ways to make your own outdoor decor, if you and your family are feeling up for a craft.

Also Check: How Much Do Louvered Pergolas Cost

Add Structure And Shade With A Pergola

Create a cozy nook with a pergola.

Use a pergola, or a canopy, to separate different areas of your yard. These structures, which can be freestanding or attached to your home, add a roomlike feel to the backyard without compromising fresh air. Think about putting a seating or dining area beneath the structure and dress it up with string lights, flowers, and plants.


How Do I Design My Backyard

33 Best Outdoor Living Space Ideas and Designs for 2021

Designing a backyard can feel like a big task, especially if youre working with a large surface area. Luckily, its more than manageable if youve got a solid plan. Banken explains that although its common to design a backyard in phases , its important to always know how each part will eventually fit into the whole. When you have an overall plan for your space it gives you something to work toward and also makes sure youre not wasting time, he says.

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Outdoor Dining Room Ideas

Our deck at the Vermont cabin is a pretty good size, but not as large as our decks at home. I wanted to enjoy both a comfortable living and dining room space but couldnt fit both.

To get the best of both worlds, I found THIS dining room set that could function as both living and dining.

So far its worked out really well.


My outdoor dining space in New Jersey is a little different. I wanted to use a large farmhouse table with wicker chairs.

To save some money, I found a wood farmhouse table through Facebook marketplace for $50 that I refinished with outdoor deck stain and sealer so it could withstand the elements.

Isnt that a bargain for a table?

While this set worked well in our former home, I moved the same table to what will become a potager garden, and the wood table is getting warped from the sun hitting it.

Thus, we need to replace the top with something that is better suited to the elements.


So if you decide to do this, make sure you keep it under a protected space like the gazebo we used or a covered porch.

If you want a similar look to what Ive done, here are some ideas.

Make An Area That’s Just For Kids

If you want to make your outdoor space and patio even more appealing to young children, consider investing in a treehouse, playhouse or other special area just for them. Playhouses inspire kids’ imaginations, helping them have tons of fun while thinking outside the box.

Providing kids with special outdoor space also gives them a safe place to assert their independence, cool off from a tantrum and make memories with their own young friends and family.

There are tons of options available nowadays, from easy-to-assemble, pre-fabricated teepees to full on, custom-built playhouses that are nice enough to live in.


This is also a great opportunity to sit down with your children and find out what their ideal space would look like. Maybe they’re craving a place to paint, to read, to play music. Together, you can find a way to make the space a perfect place to spend summer days in the backyard.

Once you and your littles have settled on a structure, it’s time to decorate. Outdoor floor pillows, solar-powered lights and miniature furniture all complete the look, helping to create a kids-only outdoor seating area.

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What Do You Need To Consider When Planning The Planting For Your Backyard

‘To create a garden you can enjoy year-round, consider a variety of plants that will stagger interest and color throughout the year,’ suggests Matt Fieldwick, head gardener at Terlingham Gardens by property developer Pentland Homes .

‘Virburnum opulus, for example, has white flowers in late spring/early summer, followed by clusters of red berries in autumn. Hydrangeas and crab apple trees are also great year-round plants.

‘Creating a garden planner can be a nice way to spend an afternoon pondering over plants to bring outdoor spaces to life and track your garden’s blooms throughout the year,’ Matt continues. ‘I’d also always recommend taking before and after photographs of your garden makeover projects to show your hard work and progression and to remember your favorite plants.’

Matt also suggests thinking about using plants for privacy. ‘For many, gardens to the front or even the back of the house might have an open feel, that can leave you feeling overlooked by neighbors. No matter how much you may get along, sometimes privacy becomes a priority. Screens, hedging, and trellis, available at most garden centers, are an easy way to not only create separate zones to the garden but also to provide seclusion.’ We’ve rounded up the best screening plants in our useful guide to help you get started.

Vibrant flowers bring this border to life

Make sure the spaces you create are functional for your needs

My Favorite Simple And Budget

13 Best Backyard Ideas
  • Hang baskets of flowers or ferns.
  • Add a simple table runner to make a dining table feel extra special.
  • Use fresh flowers on an outdoor coffee table or dining table.
  • Simple sprinklers and yard water slides go a long way with the kiddos .
  • Create a theme. Have a little fun with your outdoor decorations by selecting a theme to stick to in each zone. Maybe one is a tropical paradise, another is a desert oasis, and another is a rustic camp site. Run with whatever your imagination creates!
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    Invest In Iron Furniture

    Photo via @teresajackson_jec

    Sturdy outdoor furniture never goes out of style! Especially if you live in a windy city, iron or stone furniture will last longer and is less likely to blow away. While you can go with a plain iron bistro set, create a cohesive backyard design and opt for a neutral-colored and elegant iron furniture set. Properly storing patio furniture can ensure your items remain in good condition between uses, and prevent rust from forming.

    Create Shade With Umbrellas

    Photo via @gruth3

    Protect your skin and keep your drink cold with a sun umbrella! Not only do umbrellas provide shade so you can enjoy the outdoors on hot days, but they also make great decorations on patio tables or near pools! If you live in a climate with extreme weather, consider purchasing a removable umbrella, so you dont have to replace season after season.

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    Set Up An Outdoor Bar

    A poolside bar designed by TG Studio

    While outdoor dining spaces are grand, on-trend outdoor bar ideas are ideal for entertainers who like to be the life of the party.

    While you can keep things easy by simply installing a bar surface and lining it with chairs, you can also go all-out with plumbing for a wet bar, plus electricity for a mini-fridge. Pop it by the pool for ultimate vacation vibes your guests will thank you.

    List Your Preferred Outdoor Activities

    38 Fabulous Ideas For Creating Beautiful Outdoor Living Spaces

    An outdoor living space can provide a place to relax, read a good book or can be geared toward activities such as swimming, gardening, barbecuing, entertaining or outdoor sports. What activities do you, your family and your guests enjoy doing outdoors? What types of space or features are required for these activities?

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    Create Zones For Your Backyard Living Spaces

    The first mistake homeowners make is treating their outdoor space as one large open area. While this can be useful for large gatherings, it more often creates a space that has no purpose.

    To build an outdoor area that you will want to spend time in, you need to give it a purpose.

    Create zones within your backyard. Each zone can serve a different purpose.

    In my outdoor areas, we have five main zones.

  • Back patio for grilling and dining
  • Fire pit for camp fires/smores nights
  • Front field for kids activities like soccer, swing set, volleyball, and trampoline fun
  • Pond pad for lounge chairs
  • Granted, we have a large property, so it is possible to have this many zones. If you have a smaller outdoor space, choose what is important to you for backyard living. Then, put plans into action!

    Perhaps you really want to be able to eat outdoors. Set up a dining area with an affordable outdoor table. Or maybe you want to be able to have camp fires. Create a simple fire pit with some camp chairs and a fire ring.

    Zones dont have to be over-the-top or magazine worthy spaces. They just have to serve a purpose!

    Place Tiki Lights Strategically

    Photo via @daily.dose.of.teen.life

    Tiki torches are backyard staples. Not only do these kerosene-fueled lamps keep bugs awaythey can also be used to designate seating areas outside. Plus, tiki lights are a great place to start if you want to try out DIY patio ideasempty beer bottles or wine bottles can easily be converted into citronella tiki torches!

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    Add A Fire Feature For Cozy Gatherings

    Installing a fireplace or fire pit will not only add warmth and light to your patio during the evenings, but create a focal point in your design. A fire feature is the perfect centerpiece to gather with friends and family, whether it be a quaint social event or to roast marshmallows over an open fire. Choose from pre-built elements, or have a professional contractor custom build one with our unique wall products.

    Create A Stunning Outdoor Dining Area

    38+ Outdoor Living Room Ideas

    An outdoor dining area is the perfect place to gather, whether it’s for a causal weekday dinner with the kids or a big summer soiree with your friends and family.

    One of the best ways to create a gorgeous and inviting outdoor dining area is to anchor the space with an overhang. You could build a pergola, buy an umbrella, or even create an overhang using sheet metal. The aesthetics are completely up to you. What matters most is that you offer protection from the sun in a way that looks and feels good. These coverings also protect patio furniture, which can be quite expensive.

    So, how much will it cost to cover your backyard dining area? For reference, a pergola will cost thousands of dollars, a good umbrella, a few hundred.

    Remember, even the least expensive of overhangs can be dressed up with cute bistro lights, a few hanging plants, and cute outdoor garden decor, like this best-selling heart wind chime.

    You’ll also want to add ample outdoor seating. Patio furniture isn’t always cheap, but there are typically deals to be had, especially at the end of the summer season.

    We always recommend creating outdoor dining seating for at least 8, if space allows. But if your home is small, or you live in a townhouse or apartment, don’t fret. Create whatever outdoor dining space you can, even if it’s only a bistro table and two tiny chairs on a balcony or patio.

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    Outdoor Spaces For Entertaining

    One of the most popular outdoor room touches you can explore is enclosing a gazebo or pergola in colorful outdoor curtains. These will have the effect of framing the outdoor room and creating a gentle perimeter, and they can also offer precious shade on sunny days.

    Another outdoor room idea is to create an arch, trellis or doorway leading to your outdoor room. This structure can give guests the distinct feeling of entering a new space, and you can add interest to the design with colorful climbing plants.

    Fencing is another great way to frame an outdoor room. Latticework, bamboo, weathered barn wood or even shrubs can create a stylish boundary for your outdoor living space, and once you have these “walls” in place, you can explore decorating them with artwork that’ll stand up to the elements.

    To protect your outdoor room from the elements, consider adding an awning in an eye-popping design. This way, your outdoor living space will be open for enjoyment even during inclement weather.

    Don’t be afraid to add stylish accents and traditional indoor furnishings to your outdoor room. Carpets, throw pillows for furniture, and other design touches will create a welcoming feel. Just make sure they’re rated for outdoor use if they’ll be exposed to the elements.

    Spruce Up Your Outdoor Living Space

    Whether it’s a sprawling yard, cozy balcony, or something in between, your home’s exterior living spaces should be prized, even cultivated, to suit your familys tastes and habits. Its not difficult to turn a patio, deck, or shady corner into a go-to spot for daytime and nighttime relaxation. Whats more, theres no need to spend a fortune on new outdoor decor to upgrade the space. These nearly-free DIY projects will make you want to spend more time outdoors, all season long.

    Also Check: Tongue And Groove Patio Ceiling

    Install A Raised Deck

    This composite decking is from Trex

    provides a stable base for outdoor furniture, is great for hilly plots, and looks smart too. Plus, if you go for composite designs, it’s super low maintenance.

    This impressive, elevated example makes for a great entertaining or lounge space. It’s a perfect backyard idea for families, as there’s plenty of room for everyone to spread out and relax, and parents can easily keep an eye on the pool down below, too.

    Swing In A Hanging Chair

    83+ Stunning Stylish Outdoor Living Room Ideas To Expand Your Living ...

    Photo via @home_and_abroad

    Make your outdoor living space cozy and fun, and DIY some outdoor furniture! This allows you to add personality and style to your outdoor living areaand its budget-friendly! Use outdoor seating youve always wanted, like a hanging egg chair, hammock, or swing. Just be sure the structure is able to bear the weight! To create the ultimate relaxation spot, add decorative pillows and cozy blankets to your hanging chair.

    Also Check: Do You Need A Permit For A Patio Enclosure

    Entertain In A Social Front Yard

    Photo via @bigfamilyliving

    Your outdoor living space doesnt have to be behind your homeentertain friends, family, and neighbors with a social front yard! This outdoor living space design idea is particularly useful for people with smaller or already-established backyards. Homeowners can combine socializing and gardening by extending their living space to their front lawn. Expand your porch or add more seating areas to create a bigger social space in your yard for entertaining. Plant an edible garden in your front yard so the whole neighborhood can enjoy!

    Cook Outdoors With An Outdoor Kitchen

    Cooking outdoors is not just for the grill masters. If cooking outdoors is your passion, consider spicing up your backyard space with an outdoor kitchen. BBQ grill islands, pizza ovens, designated eating areas and amenities such as an outdoor fridge are all great options that transform your patio into the ultimate outdoor living room.

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